Blog | The Brainzooming Group - Part 4 – page 4

One Friday night, I forced myself to leave the office. (This is more impressive than it might seem, at first: you entrepreneurs will know what I’m talking about.) I’d made my way to the couch and was parked there, watching Jeff Lynne’s ELO: Wembley or Bust on Showtime.

(And yes, most of the songs were, in fact, from the soundtrack of my youth.)

For the closing song, the group played their version of Chuck Berry’s Roll Over, Beethoven. Truth be told, the result was rather pedestrian-sounding. But here’s the beauty of Chuck Berry’s guitar licks: when you put them into a song, no matter how lame the performer, they create excitement.

As I watched, something occurred to me for the first time.

When I started playing guitar, back in high school, I ordered a guide featuring the blues scale. The incredible thing—at least to a very inexperienced guitarist who’d had years of piano lessons, where wrong notes were violently evident—was that with a blues scale, I could play any note after another note, and it would sound great.

Imagine the freedom: here’s your instrument; go. Know that anything you choose, anything at all, will work. It was a perfectionist and an innovator’s dream: I WILL BE MISTAKE-FREE NO MATTER WHAT I DO!

I’m guessing that this all came together for me right then because I had been pitching a new client in partnership with an advertising agency. I explained to them that no matter who we bring into an in-person Brainzooming workshop, we design the questions and exercises so that EVERYONE will be successful participating. There’s pretty much no way they can make a mistake, so long as they’re participating.

Brainzooming as the blues scale of strategy, innovation, and branding? It’s like the secret to creative success for everyone! I like the concept, a lot. It’s the perfect analogy for what we do—and what we teach our clients to do.

If you want to collaboratively engage your team (or multiple teams) in a strategic and creative thinking process in which any of them can discover the secret to creative success, then it’s time to contact us. We’d love to work with you so each of your team members can contribute and all work well together!

And if you want to get your team members going within days on enhancing  their creative success, get them copies of our book: Idea Magnets – 7 Strategies for Cultivating & Attracting Creative Business Leaders. It’s the guidebook for immediately generating inspiration and encouraging people and ideas! – Mike Brown

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The 600 Most Powerful Strategic Planning Questions

Engage employees and customers with powerful questions to uncover great breakthrough ideas and innovative strategies that deliver results! This Brainzooming strategy eBook features links to 600 proven questions for:

  • Developing Strategy

  • Branding and Marketing

  • Innovation

  • Extreme Creativity

  • Successful Implementation

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A B2B services company and an educational institution are each completing strategic planning. Before turning to implementation, it is vital to identify who will direct major initiatives to move the organizations forward. When identifying strategic leadership for new initiatives, each organization surfaced the same issue: We do not have the strategic leadership depth below the top levels to drive the initiatives that we have planned.

Even though the organizations are dissimilar, their leadership challenges are comparable:

  • “We’re so busy, nobody has time to do anything other than their current work.”
  • “Because it’s been busy for so long, our people are narrowly-focused and lack the experience and expertise to lead cross-functional strategies.”
  • “We [the top executives] have to lead these because we don’t have strong people underneath us.”
  • “Can’t we assign all the top executives as a group to lead this initiative?”

4 Ways to Highlight Emerging Strategic Leadership

via Shutterstock

When organizations face the challenge of weak strategic leadership beyond the senior ranks, what are the options for creating positive change AND developing additional leaders? Consider these strategies to address this issue:

1. Group Ownership Is NOT an Option

The B2B services company wanted its top executives to co-own major initiatives since they all needed to approve the initiatives. Since they perceive the talent below them as largely incapable, it seemed an obvious solution.

We reminded them about the repeated time challenges to get the small leadership group together to address planning prioritization and assignments. The need for them to coordinate schedules to advance even ONE strategic initiative is a near-guarantee that they will never implement the initiative successfully.

We pushed for them to look across their organizations for individuals in whom they had confidence, and who would be more available for coordinating implementation strategies. This approach yielded a few more potential next-level leaders. For others, the quick alternative was for one of the executives to own specific initiatives. While they talk and coordinate activities regularly, this compromise creates individual, rather than group, accountability for moving forward.

2. Ownership Doesn’t Mean Doing Everything

Many organizations seem to have the mistaken impression that leading or taking ownership for a strategic initiative means the individual leader is responsible for everything. That isn’t true. Nor must an initiative leader have a direct organizational line to everyone involved in implementing the plan. Owning an organizational initiative encompasses a combination role that involves:

  • A strategic perspective coupled with strengths in tactical implementation
  • An appreciation for project management practices
  • Networking and cheerleading skills to secure support and ongoing commitment
  • Solid decision making and team management skills

None of those qualifications necessarily involve integral knowledge of all or even most of the areas touched by the initiative. While that knowledge is a bonus, the initiative owner’s major role involves coordinating the people who – in aggregate – DO have the knowledge, skills, and responsibility to implement the varied parts of the initiative.

For the leaders at the educational institution, whose department includes a wide range of not-exactly-complementary functions, this role description opened possibilities for individuals lacking deep understanding of everything the department does, but who have the respect and wherewithal to coordinate a group of peers.

3. Free Up the People with Potential

Building on the understanding that initiative leadership need not strictly follow organizational lines opened another possibility: a junior team member can lead a cross-functional, strategic initiative for an organization. We related various examples including one where an analyst led a new product development effort that included his boss’ boss, and several of his boss’ peers, as team members. We bridged that example to begin suggesting smart, talented, and passionate individuals in their organization to consider for leadership roles.

4. Prioritize Implementation as a Learning Opportunity for EVERYONE

Beyond strong leadership, it takes a solid team to successfully implement an organizational initiative. That often suggests the need to select the leader and the team together. This means covering the necessary skills, experience, and expertise across the entire team, relying much less on any one or small group of individuals to carry the team. In tight staffing situations, this can minimize the amount of time any one person has to spend and makes the team composition easier to develop.

In this situation, the implementation process becomes a learning opportunity for everyone. Team members will broaden their skills sets and horizons. The initiative owner will grow her or his leadership skills. The executive team will have a better idea of who will emerge as the next generation of leaders.

It’s Not Easy, but It’s Vital to Highlight Emerging Strategic Leadership

For executives who are under the gun to implement daily activities, these ideas may not seem as though they will make life easier. Today’s priorities rarely disappear. If you have the need to implement strategic change, though, these strategies are all solid alternatives to grow the strategic leadership to take your organization forward.  – Adapted from Inside the Executive Suite via Armada Corporate Intelligence

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Today, I’m delivering a new Idea Magnets workshop on Finding and Sharing Your Brand’s Extraordinary Stories on Social Media. The venue is the Social Media Strategies Summit in New York. Within the workshop, we’re applying the Idea Magnets creative leadership formula to brands that want to improve the resonance and impact of the social-first content they create.

For the workshop, we solicited participants’ questions and expectations in advance. One desired take-away they shared was figuring out how to get the most from the stories their brands develop. To come up with a new Idea Magnets creative approach to the question, Emma Alvarez Gibson and I turned to one of the most famous stories of the last forty-plus years: Star Wars.

Think about all the variations and extensions of the Star Wars story! We translated all those twists and turns to create this list of seventeen ways to extend your brand’s extraordinary stories:

  1. Develop a story with multiple characters
  2. Continue the story and add new characters
  3. End the original story and resolve most things
  4. Use elements of the original story format and share specific parts
  5. Develop the prequel story before the original story with new characters that set up the backstories of some already-revealed characters
  6. Continue the prequel story in multiple parts
  7. Resolve the prequel, but leave room between the prequel and the original story
  8. Refresh the original story with new storytelling techniques & previously unused material
  9. Create events allowing the audience members to immerse in the story
  10. Hand the story to a new creative leader to develop a sequel that happens after the original story
  11. Continue the sequel in multiple parts
  12. Select specific characters and build new stories around each of them
  13. Select an as-yet-untold story and focus on answering big, lingering questions related to it
  14. Adapt all parts of the story for different audiences with different media preferences
  15. Let users create content stories from the original characters and story lines
  16. Invite other professional communicators to re-imagine the story with their preferred storytelling methods
  17. Extend the legacy of a few characters through to the next generation of the story

Want to go further to exploit extraordinary stories? Download our FREE eBook with forty-nine questions to inspire extraordinary brand stories.

Want to up the game on your Idea Magnet creative leadership skills? Then get your book or Kindle copy of idea Magnets – 7 Strategies for Cultivating & Attracting Creative Business Leaders today on Amazon! – Mike Brown

49 Idea Magnet Questions to Attract Your Brand’s Extraordinary Stories

Developing and sharing extraordinary stories that resonate with your brand’s most important audiences is an important key to branding success.

49 Idea Magnet Questions to Attract Your Brand’s Extraordinary Stories puts ALL the powerful questions at your disposal to identify, develop, and share authentic stories. It introduces multiple strategies that Idea Magnets use to:

  • Make unexpected connections and generate story ideas
  • Encourage people to share experiences that lead to memorable stories
  • Tell stories through effective techniques that intrigue and engage audiences

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Idea Magnets make things more exciting, fulfilling, and successful in every area of life – from their work, to their personal lives, to chance encounters. How do they accomplish that? By employing seven strategies to generate inspiration and apply their creative energy to important opportunities.

Extreme creativity questions are some of the most valuable Idea Magnets tools. These over-sized questions let you effectively expand creative thinking for individuals and teams.

When it comes to branding and content marketing, extreme creativity questions provide an outstanding way to discover, develop, and share extraordinary stories. They deliver for Idea Magnets with branding responsibilities by:

  • Helping audiences see new possibilities
  • Offering a starting point for people to share new stories
  • Uncovering unique aspects and intriguing twists that make stories extraordinary

Here’s the great news: you can get your own set of powerful extreme creativity questions for content marketers, social media professionals, and brand strategists!

It’s as easy as downloading your FREE copy of the new Idea Magnets eBook, 49 Idea Magnet Questions to Attract Your Brand’s Extraordinary Stories.

49 Idea Magnet Questions to Attract Your Brand’s Extraordinary Stories

Developing and sharing extraordinary stories that resonate with your brand’s most important audiences is an important key to branding success.

In this actionable new eBook, you will get forty-nine questions to inspire new ideas and energize your team and audiences to continually tell stories that create dynamic, positive impacts. It will introduce you to multiple strategies that Idea Magnets use to:

  • Make unexpected connections and generate story ideas
  • Encourage people to share experiences that lead to memorable stories
  • Tell stories through effective techniques that intrigue and engage audiences

49 Idea Magnet Questions to Attract Your Brand’s Extraordinary Stories puts ALL the powerful questions at your disposal to identify, develop, and share authentic stories.

That’s why you need to get your copy of 49 Idea Magnet Questions to Attract Your Brand’s Extraordinary Stories today. You will be able to immediately implement your branding and content marketing initiatives with greater impact and results!

Download Your FREE eBook! 49 Idea Magnet Questions to Attract Your Brand's Extraordinary Stories!

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Idea Magnets instinctively apply their core strategies to create outstanding customer experiences. With that backdrop, I delivered an Idea Magnets workshop at a technology company.

The specific focus?

How Ideas Magnets apply their strategies to create stronger internal customer experiences.

Idea Magnets and Outside-In Customer Experiences

Here’s how each Idea Magnets strategy matches up:

Generate Inspiration: Idea Magnets use extreme creativity questions to motivate their teams to imagine dramatically new possibilities. The answers impact how they design and deliver a customer experience.

Embody Servant Leadership: Servant leaders are thinking about how they are doing things to benefit their audiences. Embracing servant leadership helps focus on what works best for potential customers.

Attract Opposites: When there’s a call to enhance a customer experience, you want to explore ideas from multiple perspectives. Idea Magnets are adept at flipping situations on their heads to see new ideas hidden among familiar processes.

Make Unexpected Connections: There are incredible customer experience lessons from leading brands across all industries. Finding the right comparison brand for your brand will highlight strategies that are easily portable across industries.

Encourage People and Ideas: Customer experience is a multi-dimensional aspect of a brand. Idea Magnets naturally bring together a diverse mix of people and perspectives across the customer experience.

Implement for Impact: With a bias for acting on innovative ideas, Idea Magnets effectively narrow options and make decisions with the customer in mind. They integrate techniques to simplify making complex choices, speeding up the time from idea to implementation.

Recharge Creativity: Staying on top of expectations and performance on the customer experience demands long-term focus and innovative thinking. Ideas Magnets are adept at keeping the team’s thinking fresh and new even as they tackle ongoing functions and issues.

If your organization needs new thinking on customer experience, embracing the seven Idea Magnets strategies is a fantastic place to start. Contact us, and let’s talk about how the Idea Magnets book and/or workshops will inspire big changes!

Note: If you’re a Brainzooming blog subscriber and wondering where I’ve been the last month, it’s been a crunch time: travel to client workshops, the Inbound18 conference, and multiple local client engagements. That’s great for business. It’s also a challenge for publishing regularly. I can’t see the time crunch ending soon. My apologies as we try to keep up a regular publishing schedule in this important strategic planning time! – Mike Brown

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At an Idea Magnets workshop, we shared a strategic thinking exercise we call Rock-Paper-Scissors. We employ it to categorize what your company or department is currently offering based on:

  • Things that add incredible value for your audience
  • Things that don’t add incredible value, but could if they received more attention and resources
  • Things that once created incredible value, but no longer do, and are ripe for major modifications or for being eliminated

In the post-workshop evaluation, one attendee asked about extending this strategic thinking exercise to identify things you aren’t currently doing that you should be doing. The individual asking the question suggested it as a fourth element of the Rock-Paper-Scissors strategic thinking exercise (perhaps as Rock Number 2).

Picking up on the suggestion, here is a starting list of questions that could start to answer this important fourth question about what’s missing within your offerings:

  • What have customers been asking about forever that no one will deliver for them?
  • If you weren’t constrained by whatever you think your current constraint is, what would you provide to customers because it’s the right thing to do?
  • If you moved backward in your product/service delivery process, what would you start to do to create stronger benefits for customers?
  • If you moved forward in your product/service delivery process, what would to begin offering to customers to enhance how you deliver benefits to them?
  • Ask a client: If you were running our company / department, what would you be doing? (You may get lucky on this one, but don’t bet on it. Customers aren’t paid to do your thinking for you.)

This one is definitely in the Brainzooming R&D Lab! We’ve used most of these questions in other settings, but not integrated as a fourth part of Rock-Paper-Scissors. We’ll try it out soon and see how it works to complement what is an already-proven strategic thinking exercise for Brainzooming clients. – Mike Brown

Need Fresh Insights to Drive Your Strategy?

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“Strategic Thinking Exercises: Reimagining the SWOT Analysis” features eleven ideas for adapting, stretching, and reinvigorating how you see your brand’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats.

Whether you are just starting your strategy or think you are well down the path, you can use this eBook to:

  • Engage your team
  • Stimulate fresh thinking
  • Make sure your strategy is addressing typically overlooked opportunities and threats

Written simply and directly with a focus on enlivening one of the most familiar strategic thinking exercises, “Reimagining the SWOT Analysis” will be a go-to resource for stronger strategic insights!

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“You need to train people for their next jobs, not the ones they’re in right now.”

A participant shared that in an experience strategy workshop. 

His comment got me thinking: How much of what we do is based around right now, when it REALLY should be oriented toward getting ready for whatever is next?

The next . . . 

While you want to importantly make sure what’s going on right now is working well, you HAVE to carve off investment resources (focus, time, money, effort) to make sure you are ready for whatever is next.

Look at where you are giving your attention and other investment resources. Are they setting you up for future success? Or are they merely keeping you paddling in place for right now?

Depending on the answer, an Idea Magnet realizes you may need to make a big change to ever make progress. And that change starts right now!  – Mike Brown

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